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Jewish World Review April 23, 2001/ 30 Nissan 5761

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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Scolding Israel from 'the safe distance' -- PRESIDENT BUSH remembered the Holocaust last week from what he called "the safe distance of history."

A safe distance is a nice place, even when itīs a little crowded. Thatīs where some of Israelīs friends try to be when theyīre being friendly to the Jewish state.

The president appeared to be deeply moved as 34 regimental flags of the U.S. troops who liberated the Nazi death camps were carried into the Rotunda of the Capitol for a ceremony commemorating the final destruction of the perverted science of Hitlerīs final solution.

The events we recall today have the safe distance of history, the president said when it was his turn to speak. And there will come a time when the eyewitnesses are gone, and that is why we are bound by conscience to remember what happened and to whom it happened.

We strive to be a refuge for the persecuted. We are called by history and by conscience to defend the oppressed. Our country stands on watch for the rise of tyranny.

The story of the Jews is one of defiance in oppression and patience in tribulation. That story continued in the founding of the state of Israel. That story continues in the defense of the state of Israel.

Lovely words, and the president ought to make sure that someone sends a transcript of his words over to the State Department, where Colin Powell could tack them up on a bulletin board where everyone could read them. Maybe in the executive dining rooms, the conference rooms or other safe places where history is made. The president might even send a copy of the transcript to Jerusalem, where some of the doves who still have unplucked tail feathers could profitably study them. These are redoubts of hard American heads and soft Jewish heads where reality is often an orphan, who cannot get their minds around the hard truth that the Middle East is overflowing with men whose determination to destroy the Jewish state burns unabated.

For a few days after the inauguration it appeared that the new secretary of state might actually get it. He forbade the use of the very term peace process, which all but the thickest among us had long since learned has nothing to do with peace, and is only about process. Mr. Powellīs distinguished military career, from the stuff he learned as a shaved-tail lieutenant to the grim lessons learned in the jungled highlands of Vietnam, taught him to look reality hard in the face that sometimes you come up against an enemy that is determined to kill you, and all the orange pekoe and finger sandwiches in the world will not assuage his insatiable appetite.

But last week the old State Department disease blame the Jews first flared anew, and Gen. Powell succumbed to the temptation to invoke the pernicious doctrine of moral equivalence. No sooner had the Israelis moved into Gaza to punish the Palestinians for a mortar attack on a Jewish village than the secretary of state began to assign equal portions of blame.

The hostilities were precipitated by the provocative Palestinian mortar attacks on Israel, he said. That was the ping. Then came the pong: The Israeli response was excessive and disproportionate. We call upon both sides to respect the agreements theyīve signed. For the Palestinians, this includes implementing their commitment to renounce terrorism and violence, to exercise control over all elements of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, and to discipline violators. (Ping) For the Israelis, this includes respecting their commitment to withdraw from Gaza according to the terms of the agreements signed by Israel and the Palestinians. (Pong) There can be no military solution to this conflict.

This assessment is born of wishful thinking, sired by false assumption. When have the Palestinians ever renounced terrorism and violence? Exercised control over Yasser Arafatīs terrorists? Disciplined violators? His solution would have the Israelis respect agreements made with enemies who have never kept agreements and have no intention of ever doing so. We have their word on it. A military solution is exactly how they intend to destroy Israel and throw the Jews into the sea.

Judgment is hobbled by naivete not only in Washington, but in Jerusalem. Yossi Beilin, the Israeli justice minister in the Barak government, writes in the New York Times how he met only last week with Yasser Arafat and that the Palestinian response to the Clinton ideas was acceptance with reservations. (Italics mine.) But of course. The key word is reservations. The Palestinians will keep on keeping on, counting on Israelīs friends at the safe distance of history to finally grow weary of the cries of the Jews, and shut their ears. Why not? It worked once.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


04/18/01: Opening the door on a grisly spectacle
04/16/01: When the thrill goes out of the romance
04/10/01: We have no bananas, they have hostages
04/06/01: Putting a little face on the China 'crisis'
04/04/01: No caving, please, to the cave men
04/02/01: Child abuse, anyone? Try dodging this
03/28/01: In fear of the peril of the Weak Sisterhood
03/23/01: Dubya disowns the dirt dishers
03/21/01: Why can't senators be nice to Mom?
03/19/01: Knocking hard heads at the Pentagon
03/14/01: Second thoughts on the faith initiative
03/12/01: Getting punch drunk on disappointment
03/07/01: The dazzling triumph of Saddam Hussein
03/05/01: How can a real gent tell the lady no?
02/28/01: Who won that war? Best not to look
02/26/01: Bonnie & Clod, gifts who keep on giving
02/21/01: It's Hot Springs week in downtown Harlem
02/13/01: Some of our riots seem to be missing
02/07/01: When a hate crime is something to love
02/07/01: Lifting a few spoons, cutting a few taxes
02/02/01: A few small surprises and a large lesson
01/31/01: Serving fried crow in the press mess
01/26/01: The gathering storm over Jesse Jackson
01/23/01: A graceless getaway, a graceful beginning
01/19/01: Once more to wave the bloody shirt
01/16/01: Bring on the lions, the clowns are ready
01/12/01: The dastardly plot to restore slavery
01/10/01: Mr. Lott's generosity to the Dems
01/05/01: Looking to the past for a bad example
01/03/01: A modest proposal for Arkansas folk
12/19/00: The reflexive sneer at George W. Bush
12/15/00: Taking inspiration from John Birch
12/12/00: It's time to raise high Florida's standards
12/08/00: A President Bush, and about time, too
12/05/00: Here come the judge --- and he's got a hook
11/28/00: Cry no tears for Al, lawyers are the losers
11/21/00: The useful loathing of America's sons
11/17/00: When this is all over, we spray for lawyers
11/14/00: Something murky in the twilight zone

11/10/00: Something sinister in Palm Beach

11/07/00: Low days in the life of the ruptured duck

11/06/00: A little race baiting in the final hours

11/01/00: Creator gets a hard time on the hustings

10/27/00: The sorcerer rides to rescue his apprentice

10/25/00: The founding father with a story to tell

10/23/00: A lonely passion for religious rights

10/16/00: Spending blood on the folly of fools

10/11/00: A big night for the embellisher-in-chief

10/06/00: AlGore's black problem

10/04/00: In headlong pursuit of the bigot vote

10/02/00: A modest proposal for Rick Lazio

09/27/00: When folks at home give up on a scamp

09/25/00: Gore plot exposed! The secret minutes

09/18/00: Playing politics with the blood supply

09/14/00: Al sets out to find his 'tolerance level'

09/12/00: When it's time for a thumb in the eye

09/07/00: Making a daughter a campaign asset

09/04/00: A footnote to the lie: How he beats the rap

08/30/00: Unbearable lightness of a cyberjournal

08/21/00: Clinton chickens on AlGore's roost

08/16/00: The long goodbye to California's cash

08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme

08/07/00: After insulin shock, an authentic rouser

08/02/00: When it gets hard not to get a little giddy

07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers

07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself

07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?

07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?

07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit

07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink

07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season

07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results

07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate

06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!

06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve

06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman

06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat

06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation

06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'

06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch

06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak

05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper

05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks

05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes

05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example

05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans

05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales

05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man

05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat

05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary

04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood

04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks

04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go

04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno

04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)

04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts

03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table

03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day

03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult

03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology

03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain

03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden